FreelancersIn a tough economy, you may have a hard time finding a position as a full-time employee where you can use your unique skills and get paid solid wages with benefits. In these situations, you may be tempted to turn to freelancing in lieu of holding down a classic 9-to-5. This may or may not be a good move for you, depending on your situation. Ask three major questions as part of your decision of whether to give freelancing a try.

Are Your Skills Marketable as a Freelancer?

Some skill sets lend themselves more readily to freelancing than others. For example, graphic designers commonly work freelance, even though some companies may hire a full-time graphic designer. Writing is another skill that you can easily market as a freelancer. On the other hand, secretarial work isn’t something that’s commonly done on a  freelance basis. Because it involves working more closely with just one company, it’s more likely to be a paid employee position.

Do You Have a Portfolio of Relevant Work?

As you head out on your own as a freelancer, one of the first things clients will ask to see is your portfolio. Because they’re paying you to complete a specific job, they want to see proof that you’ve done similar jobs well in the past. Gather together examples of your best work before you try to work as a freelancer. Try to show your versatility on projects to allow you to reach a wider client base and be more likely to show them something that’s similar to what they are looking for. If you haven’t done freelance work in the past or don’t have anything from past employee positions to show, you may need to create unpaid portfolio pieces to help you launch your freelance career.

Can You Handle a Variable Income?

Freelancing doesn’t come with a steady paycheck every two weeks. Often you’ll find yourself waiting up to 90 days between when you complete a job and send the invoice until you get paid for your work. You can sometimes negotiate to be paid as you go, at least in part, but you still can’t ever really count on getting paid on a specific date. Therefore, your budget will need to be flexible so you can handle your bills even without getting steady pay. You’ll also need to have a disciplined personality when it comes to managing money because when it does come in, you’ll need to make it last until you get paid next.

Although launching a freelance career isn’t for everyone, it definitely has its appeal. You get to be your own boss, pick exactly what types of work you are going to do, and set your own daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. If you want to take a vacation, there’s nobody you have to talk to to get time off. These perks are what have caused millions of people to push past the obstacles and launch successful careers freelancing in their fields.